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14th March 1999

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A view from the hills

It is all a load of tripe if you ask me!

All right... so lots of little cabbages sprouting here, there, everywhere, do not want us mammals to consume beef. They should sing their thanks to the Kandy Municipality, for nothing deters the consumption of beef than the price one is forced to pay for a kilo. The butchers of the Kandy market shrug. Oh, they will continue to sell beef. It's what they have always done... and no, they cannot give beef at the so-called "controlled" price of Rs. 80 per kilo.

"How can we?" they counter, "the Municipality fleeces us. Do you know how much we have to pay for our stalls?"

There are ten beef stalls in the Kandy Central Market. The procedure is as follows: First, there is a non-refundable tender form fee of Rs. 500 plus GST Rs. 62.50. Then, there is a refundable tender deposit which is ten percent of the minimum bid. The deposits are as follows: Eight stalls (Nos 155,157,158, 164, 167, 168, 172 and 175) Rs. 20,000 each. For these eight stalls, the minimum bid each must be Rs. 200,000 plus GST Rs. 25,000. For stall No 162, refundable tender deposit is Rs. 78,050 and minimum bid Rs. 780,500 plus GST Rs. 97,562.50. For stall No. 163 refundable tender deposit is Rs. 46,080 and minimum bid Rs. 460,800 plus GST Rs. 57,600.

So what have we? Butchers have paid the Municipality Rs. 3,485,092.50 and can expect in all their refundable deposits amounting to Rs. 284,130. Now this, mind you, is the tendering. Bids can go much higher as one would expect. Butchers have also to pay a monthly stall rental of Rs. 850 plus GST Rs. 106.25. The duration of occupancy of stall is two years.

Let us take stall No 162. with two years rental, the butcher pays a total of Rs. 97,962.50. He will need to sell 1,224,531 and a quarter kilos of beef at the Rs. 80 controlled price to break even. He must also pay for transport, labour and also put up with periodic closures of stalls on religious occasions. He must also face the vilification of the anti-beef brigades. And it's not that people do not eat beef. A lot of people do, and the stall owners say that they also provide the Police kennels.

So the beef-eaters will continue to grumble. They pay too much, they say. The butchers shrug. "The Municipality skins us," they say. "We have no choice." Beef is now Rs. 125 per kilo if you're lucky. Supermarkets sell at around Rs. 180. And how come, if the Municipality makes a packet out of the stalls, there are some members who go along with the views of the anti-beef wallahs? Strange place, this Kandy. All a load of tripe if you ask me!

"Underneath the Heavens"

Young Milani Joseph is one of the sales team of Vijitha Yapa Bookshop, Kandy. I suppose it is the very atomosphere of books all around her that has drawn her to write... and she does have a mind of her own when it comes to penning her many moods. Her poem, "Underneath the Heavens" is included in the prestigious UK publication, "Songs of Senses" (Spring '99 issue) which is published by the International Poetry Organization, UK.

I am sure we all share in her happiness and it certainly does well for this country that more and more young people are being recognised abroad in the field of the arts. Congratulations, Milani, and keep writing.

The Badaweli Ganga

What do the undertaker establishments do with the stuff that is taken out of a corpse that is to be embalmed? It was a sorry revelation indeed, to be told by a prominent Kandy doctor that, in and around the Katugastota area, human intestines and internal organs are not being disposed of in the proper manner. There is no reason why all this must not be buried... and yet, the horrible fact is that bags of this muck are tossed into the Mahaweli Ganga. (And yes, it is muck, isn't it? Maybe it is all this muck within that makes us so mucky on the outside at times!)

In Katugastota, the Rotary Club is fighting a never ending battle to keep the town clean, green and pleasant. Even the attempt to keep the banks of the river beyond the bridge in a state of pleasant order is constantly sullied by the owners of eating houses and shopkeepers who dump their garbage on the banks. Also, this green area has become a sort of community toilet.

The Rotarians have been to the authorities and have been told, rather apologetically, that nothing should be done to upset their voters! A point well taken. After all, what is more important? The vote of the environmental terrorist or the health and cleanliness of a city?

Kapok into plywood

A plywood Processing Plant is to be set up at Hapugastenne Estate which is part of the Udapussellawa Plantations Group of James Finlays Plantations Holdings Ltd. The company has found that, besides overmature rubber, kapok, hitherto considered of no use even for fuelwood, can be peeled for plywood of 5mm. thickness.

the Plantation Company aims for self-sufficiency in plywood which will do away with the need for importation of sheets of made-up tea chests. Recently, at Yatawatta Estate, Matale, which is also a part of the Udapussellawa Group, both rubber and kapok were felled to be peeled for plywood.

Parkers and hawkers

A recent street survey conducted by University students has revealed that 65% of street side parking in Kandy is confined to the same vehicles, day in and day out, where the same space is occupied throughout.

Obviously, the survey reveals, these are the vehicles of the owners of the shops and establishments who must keep their vehicles in front of their establishments from opening to closing time.

In asking around the shops in Trincomalee Street and Kotugodelle Vidiya, shopkeepers have one doleful complaint. "Business is bad," they say. They don't seem to understand that business is down because would-be customers have no place to park.

Another funny side of the survey is that shops also permit hawkers to set up outside their premises, and the hawkers are not to be trifled with. Anyone daring to utilize a parking space where they do business is crisply asked to move out. "You are blocking my business," they growl.

"Your business? Is this piece of pavement your shop?"

"Yes! So you get out!"

"And has the Municipality given you a licence of this shop of yours?"

Of course not, but then, the Municipality is like Shere Khan, a toothless old tiger that is afraid of getting its tails singed. And so it goes on.

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